Some reporters and pundits believe that the Senate Minority Leader and the House Minority Leader made a strategic error in refusing to meet with President Grump over the government shutdown. However, Lawrence O'Donnell explains (segment from the beginning, quote from 4:03, of the video below):
Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell knew exactly why Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi weren't there today and they would have done exactly the same thing if it could have happened to them, which of course it never could because no Democratic president in history would ever insult the leadership of the other Party publicly when he was expecting to see them at a meeting in the White House. And so Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan knew the instant they saw the latest lie-filled Trump tweet this morning what was probably going to happen.
"Meeting with 'Chuck and Nancy' today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don't see a deal."
And so for what- the idiot presidency that has been firing off lie-filled tweets at members of Congress in both parties (who) all year paid a very serious price today for the idiocy and for the lying. And we can only hope for the sake of the country, for the sake of sanity in government, that as a condition for re-entering the White House or any room to participate in any form of conversation with Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will make it an absolute requirement that the President apologize for lying about them and their Democratic colleagues by saying that they want illegal immigrants flooding into the country unchecked and for saying that they are weak on crime and for saying that they substantially want to raise taxes.
Donald Trump will not apologize. He apologized once in his life- for saying what he was caught on the Access Hollywood tape boasting about- and now is reportedly claiming that the voice on the tape was not his own. Further, if he can claim with impunity that Doug Jones is weak on crime, he can say it about anyone. Immigration is his signature issue. It is the big lie of the GOP, repeated since at least the lying days of Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6), that Democrats want to raise taxes. Without it, they have nothing.
O'Donnell realizes that Trump will not apologize but that the Schumer/Pelosi strategy nonetheless is necessary. He recognizes
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer now have the most powerful leverage anyone has ever had over Donald Trump to force him to retract lies, important lies. The President of the United States is lying about what is at stake in his discusssions with the Democrats. The President of the United States is lying that the Democrats want to substantially raise taxes, and so if the Democrats reach any kind of legislative deal about anything that does not raise taxes, then Donald Trump will play them for suckers and claim that he won in that deal, whatever that deal might be becuase it does not raise taxes.
The President is as of this moment playing Lindsey Nelson and Bob Corker, two Senators who have been vicioously attacked and publicly humiliated by Donald Trump, but who voted in the Budget Committee to pass on to the floor the tax bill Trump desperately wants. But the two top Democrats are not so easily used and abused and
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi did not get played today by Donald Trump. If they and their advisers understand the importance of the moment than Trump has now given them. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will make Donald Trump pay for his lies in a way that is not settling some petty score but an important lesson about the real governing questions involved in funding the government.
Americans have reason to fear tonight that the Trump insult machine has become so normalized in Washington that Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump will not demand a retraction from Donald Trump as a condition for dealing with him and if they don't, the truth will suffer once again and the future of governance in this country will take a turn for the worse. It is against most politician's nature to be confrontational in these situations. They are compromisers by nature, especially in the congressional leadership and especially when the rationale for compromise is for the good of the country as it always is when trying to prevent a government shutdown, which is now eleven days away if Congress does not pass some kind of spending bill.
The government may stop operating in the short term. However
sometimes what is more important to the good of the country is not what happens if the government doesn't function properly tomorrow but what happens to the fundamental integrity of the governing process and that has been irredeemably corrupted by the lies of Donald Trump- the daily, unceasing lies of the President of the United States about large and small times. And this time fighting against lies is more important than fighting to keep the government open because the Republicans don't know how to do that for themselves.
There isn't even much wailing and gnashing of teeth from Republicans. Mostly, there are GOP members of Congress telling receptive reporters that they really, really don't like the President's behavior. Nevertheless, they will (as the psychologists call it) "enable" him, encourage his lies and tweets and insults and threats by voting to give him a win in the House and the Senate.
Trump says the Democratic leaders "want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on crime and want to substantially raise taxes." And he acknowledged that nothing would be accomplished by a meeting because "I don't see a deal."
Imagine you're a married couple invited for dinner at the home of an individual with whom you've had a tenuous relationship. The morning of the appointed day, your prospective host tells everyone- your friends, antagonists, and others- that you "are fine with the neglect of children and want to see them abused. I don't think we're going to get along."
Imagine, additionally, that you're a Repub member of Congress. You will moan and groan, express discomfort with your host, and go to the dinner, only to be humiliated then or at a later date.
Now imagine that you are Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. You refuse, maintain your dignity and the dignity of your family, and demonstrate that you will not be played or manipulated. That's leadership.